When Geopolitics becomes Moral Panic: El Mercurio and the use of international news as propaganda against Salvador Allende’s Chile (1970–1973)

Francisco Javier Alvear, Jairo Lugo-Ocando*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


This article analyses how geopolitics was used to create moral panic during Salvador Allende’s government in Chile (1970–1973) and examines the type of recursive devices—such as geopolitical strategic narratives—that were employed by El Mercurio to advance specific discourses that intended to undermine the legitimacy of Allende while mobilising the public agenda towards the political right. Our thesis is that this was done by selective and framed use of international news in ways that somehow created moral panics by bringing geopolitics into the realm of the general public. In so doing, El Mercurio invisibilised important elements and effects of US Foreign Policy while highlighting similar elements and effects of the Soviet Foreign Policy. Our thesis is that in doing so, Allende’s government became associated with the ‘Red Scare’ and subsequently associated with the communist threat. This theme, we argue, remains relevant in times in which there continues to be a prevalent strategic narrative of enemies and foes in international news that continues to be used to create fear and mobilise public opinion towards the right of the political spectrum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-546
Number of pages19
JournalMedia History
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2 2018



  • Chile
  • El Mercurio
  • international news
  • moral panics
  • propaganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • History

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